Melissa Lou Etheridge (born May 29, 1961) is an American rock singer-songwriter and musician.
Etheridge is known for her mixture of confessional lyrics, pop-based folk-rock, and raspy, smoky vocals. She has also been an iconic gay and lesbian activist since her public coming out in January 1993.
Etheridge was born in Leavenworth, Kansas, the younger of two girls, to John Etheridge, a psychology teacher at Leavenworth High School, and Elizabeth Williamson, a computer consultant. She attended David Brewer School, which is still located at 17th and Osage Streets. She graduated in 1979 from Leavenworth High School (LHS), 10th Avenue and Halderman. Etheridge was a member of the first "Power and Life" musical/dance group at LHS which is still active today. Her childhood home was at 1902 Miami Street.
Etheridge's interest in music began early; she picked up up her first guitar at 8. She began to play in all-men country music groups throughout her teenage years, until she moved to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music.
Etheridge's father, John Etheridge, was a high school psychology teacher, counselor and athletic director at her alma mater, Leavenworth High School. He died in 1993. Her mother Elizabeth was a homemaker and a computer analyst and is now retired.
Etheridge came out publicly as a lesbian in January 1993 at the Triangle Ball, a gay celebration of President Bill Clinton's first inauguration. Etheridge supported Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign and since her coming out has been famous as a gay rights activist. She is also a committed advocate for environmental issues and in 2006, she toured the US and Canada using biodiesel.
Etheridge had a long-term partnership with Julie Cypher, and their relationship occasionally received press coverage. During this partnership, Cypher gave birth to two children, Bailey Jean, born February 10, 1997, and Beckett, born November 1998, fathered by sperm donor David Crosby. In 2000, Cypher began to reconsider her sexuality and on September 19, 2000, Etheridge and Cypher announced they were separating. In 2001, Etheridge documented her breakup with Cypher and other experiences in her memoir.
In April 2003, Etheridge became engaged to actress Tammy Lynn Michaels. The two had a commitment ceremony in Malibu, California, on September 20, 2003, which was featured on ABC's InStyle Celebrity Weddings. In April 2006, Etheridge and Michaels announced that Michaels was pregnant with twins via an anonymous sperm donor. Michaels gave birth to a daughter, Johnnie Rose and a son, Miller Steven, on October 17, 2006.
In October 2008, five months after the Supreme Court of California overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage, Etheridge announced that she and Michaels were planning to marry but were currently "trying to find the right time... to go down and do it". In November 2008, in response to the passing of California's Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage, Etheridge announced that she would not pay her state taxes as an act of civil disobedience. On April 15, 2010 Etheridge and Michaels announced they had separated.
In October 2004, Etheridge was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent chemotherapy. In October 2005, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Etheridge appeared on Dateline NBC with Michaels to discuss her struggle with cancer. By the time of the interview, Etheridge's hair had grown back after being lost during chemotherapy. She said that her partner had been very supportive during her illness. Etheridge also discussed using medicinal marijuana while she was receiving the chemotherapy. She said that the drug improved her mood and increased her appetite. In a June 15, 2009 interview with Anderson Cooper, Etheridge admitted that she still uses marijuana to lessen the effects of acid reflux or in extremely stressful situations. Medical marijuana is legal in the state of California.
Etheridge supported Barack Obama's decision to have Pastor Rick Warren speak at his 2009 Presidential inauguration, believing that he can sponsor dialogue to bridge the gap between gay and straight Christians. She stated in her column at The Huffington Post that "Sure, there are plenty of hateful people who will always hold on to their bigotry like a child to a blanket. But there are also good people out there, Christian and otherwise, that are beginning to listen."
From : www.wikipedia.org